Important note:They are no longer offering tours of Big Ben due to renovations. The tours are not expected to start again until 2020
Big Ben is the most famous landmark in London, but did you know that you can actually get permission to climb the clock tower? A tour will take you up all 334 steps to the belfry, where you'll stand ten feet away from the bell as it strikes the hour (don't worry, earplugs are provided!). It's easily one of the Top 10 things to do for free in London.
On the way up the tower you will stop in two rooms to see the pendulum and mechanism, and on the way back down he'll take you behind all four of the giant clock faces.
Unfortunately, it's a lot harder to get into Big Ben than it is to get into Parliament itself. You can't just turn up on the day and ask for a tour -- you have to jump through a few hoops first.
First of all, you have to be a UK resident, and you must obtain a ticket by writing to your local MP. (Work out who your MP is by looking here.) They will then undertake a security check on your details before giving you a slot. You should be prepared for a very long wait -- tours are often booked up three of four months in advance. You should also expect some very tight security on the day -- you will be expected to bring two forms of ID with you.
Craig has been on this tour himself and thoroughly recommends it. Read his review of the Big Ben tour before you go, so you can get an idea what it's like. Feel free to ask him some questions as well. You can also post a question on the forum.
Whilst you're at the Houses of Parliament you might like to watch your MP in the House of Commons. Or maybe you can come back at the weekend for a Saturday tour of Parliament, and see the rest of the building?
Admin – “Have a read of the review and it says how many steps you climb at each stage londondrum.com/blog/?b=164Happily you dont have to climb the whole lot in one go, you do get some rest stops along the way.They're not particularly steep, from my memory they were no steeper than the kind of stairs you have at homeYou wont be given a limitless amount of time to climb them though, because he needs to get you up to the top to hear the bell strike the hour”
Guest – “Hello again.Thank you ever so much for your reply, it's very helpful. I shall send a link to your blog to the WI ladies. Fab write up by the way.Thanks again.Mel”
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Craig’s review – “I climbed up Big Ben today to see the bell, which was pretty cool. It's not as easy to get into Big Ben as it is to get into the Houses of Parliament itself, which is a bit wierd. You can't just turn up and ask for a tour. What you have to do is write a letter to your local MP and ask for a ticket. I did that way back in May, and got a place for today a few weeks late… continued”
Read Craig’s review of this event
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